Sustainability in Agriculture & Environmental Management Essay Examples & Outline

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Sustainability in Agriculture and Environmental Management


A simple definition of the term sustainability refers to the inherent capability to endure in varying situations. For instance in ecological studies, this term revolves around the ability of biological systems to support life. A diversity in a wetland or forest ecosystems is a good example of sustainable biological system (Buckley & Carney, 2013). Three pillars constitute sustainability and include environmental, economic, and social fabrics. An interface between economics, social, and environmental repercussion of a certain human activity constitute sustainability (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Sustainability is a multifactorial way of solving major problems and its constituents do not work in isolation.

For example, sustainable economics integrate social, financial and cultural aspects. In most cases, a drift towards sustainability remain challenging in different scopes and may include a change of lifestyle, policy development and social ethics. The word sustainability is common in many spheres of life and despite its popularity in solving many problems there are challenges towards implementation (Baker et al, 2013). For instance, the world has convened many forums to look into the issue of environmental degradation with the famous one being the Kyoto Protocol. Much remains to be achieved in terms of environmental sustainability in light of increased greenhouse emissions, climate change, increased human population and its devastating impacts on environmental degradation. This paper is an in-depth discussion on the term sustainability with a huge concentration on sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation.

Sustainability in Agriculture

Agriculture has experienced gradual changes since the early days of Green Revolution. Food production soared because of new technologies, enactment of better policies, mechanization, which favoured better returns. Although the aforementioned transitions had immense positive attributes in agriculture, there are prominent costs. These include soil erosion, disintegration of both social and economic conditions in the rural areas and environmental pollution. In the past two decades, a growing concern has emerged with keen interest of solving some of these problems (Gabriel et al, 2013). Sustainability in agriculture is gaining increased support in the mainstream agricultural practices. Not only does sustainable agriculture address challenge in environmental and social aspects but also provides an opportunity for policy makers, farmers, and consumers to come up with innovative ideas.

Sustainable agriculture incorporates three crucial aspects, which are environmental health, socio-economic equity and economic profitability. People in different capacities have contributed their views on the three central issues (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Despite divergent views on sustainability in agriculture, there are general definitions, which are imminent. Sustainability revolves around the principle of meeting the present needs without compromising or affecting the future generations in the course (Lorenz et al, 2013). Therefore, being stewards of both natural and human resources is a prime concern for this new wake. Stewardship in terms of human resources entails improving the working conditions of the labourers as well as working toward better consumer health. In terms of natural resources, stewardship refers to maintaining proper land use for future generations (Edwards & Laurence, 2012).

Systems perspective is an important aspect in the definition of the term sustainability in agriculture (Lorenz et al, 2013). Broad-spectrum ideals take into consideration of looking at the individual farm, being concerned of the local ecosystem within which the farm is located in conjunction with social concerns both at local and global perspective. Interdisciplinary approach in terms of research and education is applicable in systems perspective. This involves making proper input from the workers, farmers, consumers, and policymakers (Lorenz et al, 2013). The transition towards sustainable agriculture is gradual and timely effort. It requires taking realistic goals and personal commitment towards the attainment of the goals. Sustainable agriculture is multifunctional and helps in solving many problems attributable to modern farming.

Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Management

Sustainable agriculture is increasingly valuable in the management of the output of greenhouse gases and waste management. It has revolutionized agriculture via the use of renewable resources (Gabriel et al, 2013). Sustainability hinges on a combined outlook at environmental changes their influence to the society, planet and the economical outcomes. It is believed that the three are interlinked and remain to be a challenge for the public and private sector to take three dimensions into a joint account.

With an increasing world population, new techniques for crop production and animal husbandry are imminent at bridging the gap in food security. New technologies find great applicability in agriculture, thus finding use in different areas worldwide with huge expectation in food production. These include the use of transgenic animals and plants in food production (Gabriel et al, 2013). These technologies contributed via the actions of genetic engineering have raised concerns with people from different occupations arguing that they pose a danger to the environment (Baker et al, 2013). Sustainable agriculture provides a check and balances into the use of GMOs and their effects to both individuals and the environment. There are key areas of interest in sustainable agriculture.

They include the integration of natural processes such as nitrogen fixation, regeneration of soil and use of biological predators of pests in agricultural processes (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Another key area of concern is the minimal use of non-renewable sources of energy that pollute the environment or even pose dangers to the farmers and consumers. It also entails making use of knowledge from the farmers for self-reliance i.e. substituting human capital for the costly use of inputs. Sustainability in agriculture does not rule out the possibility of using a technology (Buckley & Carney, 2013). If, for instance, this technology does help in food production and it is environmental friendly, it is beneficial on sustainability stand.

Any agricultural system around the world employing sustainability is multifactorial within the economies. They jointly help in producing food for the family as well as the markets while contributing to the public welfare through clean water, wildlife conservation and carbon sequestration. Sustainability in agriculture means better intensification of resources through making better use of the same (Baker et al, 2013). Sustainable intensification involves the use of natural, social, and human capital assets in combination with technologies to minimise or eliminate environmental pollution.

Without sustainability, agriculture can negatively influence the environment through the overuse of the resources. Some of this neglect is best referred to as negative externalities, which are the prime cause of market failure. Social system theory, as well as engineering, has a great relevance in sustainable agriculture. Luhmann, the greatest social scientist, argues that a society comprises of interacting social systems. Each system within the society creates its own reality via better communication. Everything happening in a system identifies with the logic and semantics of the same. Therefore, the use of sustainability in agriculture is identifiable as a system on its own. This system is multivariate in a manner in which it handles the issues that result from poor management. Working towards a sustainable agriculture requires close attention from the resource-conserving technologies, local institutions and external organization working closely with the local people.

Benefits of Sustainability in Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture has benefits, which are extensive in a manner with which communities and nations reap the fruits of this concerted effort. Sustainable agriculture has significant improvement, in crop yield in diverse agricultural practices. Sustainability also finds application in the generation of technologies for agricultural use (Lorenz et al, 2013). Most research institutions dealing in agriculture are developing technologies, which are a misfit to the farmers. Therefore, technologies should be both participative and responsive to the farmer’s needs and requirements. It is convincing to see communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America working together in groups and linking with external institutions in crop production and animal improvement (Buckley & Carney, 2013). Regeneration of local economies within these communities can occur due to sustainability in agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is the opposite of the conventional type, which relied upon the use of old methods in land management.

In environmental management, sustainable agriculture realizes the construct that will lead to the realization of the goals (Buckley & Carney, 2013). Sustainable agriculture means a perpetual dynamic evolution in agricultural practices to meet the needs of the changing societies and environments. Biological and economic productivity need enhancement through sustainable farming methods. The former includes feeding both the farming and the non-farming population. Any definition in sustainability in agriculture takes into account the demands of the growing population and the rising incomes. This cannot be achieved at the expense of the resources; therefore, there is a need to conserve the soil for instance.

High rates of soil loss are a primary leading factor in low productivity. Most countries lack sound policies that will help in conserving both soil and water resources (Baker et al, 2013). With a decrease in availability of arable lands, sustainability in agriculture will necessitate continual enhancement and management of soil and water resources while taking into account the biodiversity within the system (Gabriel et al, 2013). Sustainable agricultural systems need to be stable and resilient. This means it helps in reducing the risks and leads to continuity in food production and supply (Lorenz et al, 2013). This is by fulfilling the short-term requirements of the farmers without influencing on the long term environmental costs. Resilience allows adaptation to the changes in physical, socio-economic and biological environment (Buckley & Carney, 2013).

Sustainable agriculture should be environmentally viable and thus, avoid soil erosion, pollution and contamination of the adjacent ecosystems which threats reduction to the biodiversity. Social compatibility with the local people and political economies is a requirement for sustainable agriculture (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Achieving sustainability in agriculture will mean that the world agricultural output be enhanced while at the same time conserving the resources base.

If the worlds’ less advantaged people need improvement, concerns about food security and conservation of natural resources should be planned for socio-economic development. Great attention should be integration of cropping, better livestock keeping as well as other production systems to enhance the function of broader agro ecosystem. One of the primary research objective in agricultural sustainability and environment management is the integration of information on better farming methods. This includes an interdisciplinary approach in identifying the components, which determine the functioning of agro ecosystem. An important crucial factor in the consideration is the formulation, testing and measuring the hypotheses and finally interpreting the results as they pertain to components of the agro ecosystem.

Sustainable agriculture is the prime foundations for the survival of humankind. The interaction that exists between environment and agriculture is intimate. Agriculture leads to manipulation of the environment, which creates secondary impacts on the environment. On the other hand, agriculture is liable to environmental influence through changes in climate. An intermediary is the socio-economic factors, which play a crucial role both in development and management of agriculture (Buckley & Carney, 2013).

Sustainability in agriculture takes into account these social constructs in engineering long-term benefits. This entails the use of economic efficiency, which considers both natural and socio-economic environment. Conservation of the natural resources, which are both renewable and non-renewable, forms the integral role in achieving sustainable agriculture (Buckley & Carney, 2013). The philosophical underpinnings to sustainability in agriculture need to be understood since they help in understanding the principles and practices and where they should be incorporated. Integrated farming is the best example of the synthesis of ideas in the practicability of agriculture.

A revolving need for sustainability in agriculture understands the consumer needs. In the current global arena, information and affluence is empowerment (Buckley & Carney, 2013). Information on food composition and its health benefits is considerations that make people before they purchase. Environmental objectives take both local and global scenes. Local objectives take into considerations of both climatic and edaphic factors that influence the local environment (Gabriel et al, 2013). This helps in making informed decisions in soil and water management, better land use with appropriate agricultural practices (Baker et al, 2013). Global consideration of sustainability in agriculture and the environmental impacts take into account of the world climate. These objectives with the help of sustainability will help in the creation of benign agricultural systems, which are environmentally oriented (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). An environmentally oriented approach includes planting of trees within and around the farms as a way of increasing the carbon sink and creating a microclimate experience.

Conclusion

Sustainability is of great relevance in many quarters of life be it education, agriculture, economics or environmental management (Lorenz et al, 2013). It is through sustainability that goals can be achieved for the betterment of the society. Sustainability in agriculture and environmental management has been a leading goal toward better food production and minimizing the emission of greenhouse gases (Edwards & Laurence, 2012). Working towards sustainability in both agriculture and environmental management has helped in achieving the goals that lean towards better production of quality food crops, which meet the demands of the consumers (Gabriel et al, 2013). Agriculture and environment are intimately linked and, therefore, sustainability in agriculture will ensure environmental protection and conservation. Enhancement and implementation of sustainability will help in the betterment of life of the human in different fields.

References

Baker et al, J. S. (2013). Implications of Alternative Agricultural Productivity Growth Assumptions on Land Management, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Mitigation Potential.American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2(95), 435-441.
Buckley, C., & Carney, P. (2013). The potential to reduce the risk of diffuse pollution from agriculture while improving economic performance at farm level. Journal of Environmental Science and Policy, 25(2), 118-126.
Edwards, D. P., & Laurence, S. G. (2012). Green labelling, sustainability and the expansion of tropical agriculture: Critical issues for certification schemes. ADVANCING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF NAVJOT SODHI,151(1), 60-64.
Gabriel et al, D. (2013). Food production vs. biodiversity: comparing organic and conventional agriculture. Journal of Applied Ecology, 50(2), 355-364.
Lorenz et al, M. (2013). A methodological approach for deriving regional crop rotations as basis for the assessment of the impact of agricultural strategies using soil erosion as example. Journal of Environmental Management, 127(5), 37-47.